Wednesday night brought Survivor: Redemption Island the expected merging of the two tribes, and in the process it only pushed “Boston Rob” Mariano closer to the end. He was the undisputed leader of the Ometepe tribe, and while the merge should have dropped him down a notch and put a question mark after his length of time in the game, Rob seems to be just as much in control of the game as he was pre-merge.
Everyone figured the merge was coming this week when they were all invited to the Redemption Island duel, instead of just two people from each tribe. Matt was facing off against Sarita, and if he made it through this one, he’d be allowed back in the game. He needed that incentive due to injuring the bottom of his foot just before the duel.
To test Matt even further, the duel was an endurance challenge of standing up on tiny pegs on a wall that put pressure on that very part of his foot that was injured. Editing made it seem like he wasn’t going to last, while Sarita was shown quite content on the pegs. At a time, though, when he was surely struggling, she fell off the pegs giving Matt his well-deserved entrance back into the game.
Jeff Probst had more news for the newly merged tribe after the duel. Redemption Island wasn’t done. Whoever was voted out at the next tribal council would go to Redemption Island. No one was less happy to hear this than Matt. Some people were happy to hear this, and that’s the people who are playing the game.
Rob started scheming right away. What seems to be the difference this year is that while he’s playing the game 24/7, he’s also having fun at the expense of the others, but seemingly for the benefit of the fans. When it came time to name the new merged tribe, someone suggested it should be a good Spanish name. Rob suggested “Murlonio,” saying it meant “from the sea united.” It’s really a made-up word and a private joke between him and his wife and former fellow contestant, Amber. Murlonio is the name she has given to the ringleader of her stuffed animals.
It’s not all fun and games for Rob, as he’s still in control of the game and knows where to step in and where to step back. He also knows what he needs to watch for as far as what could cost him the game. From his lawn chair, Rob observed a small group forming. They were bonding over the Bible. He said it’s not that he doesn’t like God, as he goes to church every week. “It could be romantic comedies or it could be Oreo cookies. If they’re liking it together, it needs to be broken up.”
After seeing that, Rob decided he needed to get rid of Mike, to break that potential alliance up. However, another from the Bible group, Matt, made an honest confession to Rob, telling him he was considering joining the members of the old Zapatera tribe. He didn’t stop there. He also told him he was considering teaming up to specifically get rid of Rob, but changed his mind and decided to stick with the members of the old Ometepe tribe.
“Boston Rob” Mariano should be the last person you tell that you were considering voting him out. It didn’t matter what else Matt told him. All Rob heard was that someone was considering voting him out. He also knew Matt had probably shared information with the other side. There was a good chance Zapatera now knew Rob wanted to vote out Mike. Matt sealed his fate right there. Rob decided to send him back to Redemption Island. As long as Matt didn’t vote with Zapatera, Rob knew he had the numbers. At worst, it would end in a tie.
The old Zapatera tribe had decided to vote for Grant. They were concerned Rob had the immunity idol, and decided to vote for who he was closest to.Â Ralph played his immunity idol, the idol everyone knew he had, and used it to cancel out the votes for Mike. This showed Rob that he was right in getting rid of Matt, as he now knew for sure that Matt had shared info with the old Zapatera tribe.
When the votes were tallied, all of the former Zapatera voted for Grant, giving him five votes, yet all of the former Ometepe tribe voted for Matt, including his former possible love interest, Andrea. While Matt thought he was on top of his game and could choose what side to align with, he showed he wasn’t aligned with anyone as he voted for someone no one else did, Steve.
The old Zapatera tribe felt badly for Matt going back to Redemption Island, as Julie uttered under her breath, “That poor kid.” Yet, it was Dave who fully understood the move that Rob just pulled off as he remarked, “Genius is what that was.”
Genius is exactly what it was. Matt will either lose in a duel and be sent to the jury, or have to keep winning every duel to stick around. Either way, as long as he’s not in the Murlonio tribe, he can’t vote Rob out. Next week, as long as Andrea sticks with him, he’ll still have the numbers to take out someone from the old Zapatera. Further, he still has that idol. If the others try to vote him out, he can play his idol and cancel out all their votes, which will send home someone of his choosing.
One thing that can stand in the way of this plan is another idol. With Ralph playing his, it puts another idol back in play. Yet, most everyone knows now that the clue to the next idol will be hidden in the reward. Whoever wins the next reward will be shadowed from the time they come back to camp. Or, the others can be proactive and start searching for the idol while the person or persons winning the reward is still gone.
Survivor: Redemption Island is surely in Rob’s control. If he plays it right, he can make it at least to final four. However, what he needs to be careful of is just that, final four. Everyone will be afraid to take him to final three for fear he’ll win in the popular vote. He’ll have to either win that final challenge or make sure that someone he trusts to take him to the end wins it. Either way, he has more of a shot of getting there to final four than anyone else in the game right now.
For more on Survivor: Redemption Island, see SirLinksalot.